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China pneumonia outbreak claims first victim: Scientists release DNA sequence of new coronavirus

The outbreak of a mysterious respiratory illness believed to be caused by a previously unknown coronavirus in China has claimed at least one life. According to the Wuhan health authorities, the first victim involved a 61-year-old man who was admitted to the hospital with respiratory failure and pneumonia. The man, who succumbed to the illness on Thursday, seemed to have other health issues, including chronic liver disease and abdominal tumours.

Meanwhile, scientists have released the coronavirus from a case of respiratory disease from the outbreak. The development has been hailed by experts and global health leaders as a significant step as it may shed light on the virus and help in differentiating the illness it is causing as opposed to other viruses.

The Wuhan Municipal Health Committee, on its official website, added on Sunday that so far, 41 people with pneumonia-like symptoms have been diagnosed with the new virus in the Chinese central city. The health authorities said while two people have been discharged from the treatment, seven patients remained in severe conditions, and the rest are in stable condition.

The outbreak has raised fears of a potential epidemic across Asia with the governments stepping up precautionary measures against the deadly infection. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that the pneumonia outbreak appears to be linked to a single seafood market in Wuhan and has not so far spread beyond there.

The WHO statement said that preliminary epidemiological investigations showed that most cases were associated with people who either worked at or were frequent visitors to the market, which was closed on January 1. The agency added that there is no infection among health care workers at this stage, with no clear evidence of human to human transmission. It may be noted that the Wuhan health commission had said that the man who died had purchased foods from the market.

Coronaviruses are types of viruses that can cause various infections, ranging from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for illnesses caused by these viruses. Patients are prescribed pain and fever medications to help relieve the symptoms.

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